Yes, Russian sumo wrestler on USF football team
With the release Tuesday of USF’s 2012 football roster, the Bulls also gave official confirmation to one of the wildest storylines in play since January: Yes, a former sumo wrestler from Russia is now part of Skip Holtz’s football team.
His name is Soslan Gagloev, and he is a 6-foot-4, 308-pound defensive tackle who transferred to USF from Webber International, a small NAIA school near Babson Park. It’s the same school where receiver Ean Randolph played before he became USF’s leading receiver for the 2006 season. Gagloev has to sit out the 2012 season, but will then have two years of eligibility with the Bulls.
“Great young man. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with him a couple of times," Holtz said. "I've never seen him as a player, so it's hard for me to comment on that right now. But I know Kevin Patrick has gotten close with him, and this is something he really wants to do. I'm excited to see how he's going to fare."
Gagloev, from the tiny town of Alagir in southern Russia, has played very little football – he had 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks in two seasons at Webber -– but Holtz is intrigued by the power and size of such a raw prospect. He is known in sumo wrestling by the name Wakanoho Toshinori, and you can read more about his background in this story.
"The first day may be quite an experience, if we go one-on-one and he wraps a guy up in a sumo hold and throws him to the ground or something, pushes him out of the ring," Holtz said. "We do a drill, a sumo drill, where you have to push the other guy out of the ring. I don't think there will be a lot of people lined up to go against him. He'll be standing in a circle by himself over there."
It’s not Holtz’s first experience with an intriguing international project – when he was at East Carolina, he had a walk-on from Africa named Kwaku Danso, who was 6-foot-5 and 336 pounds and played in just three games for the Pirates, but later earned an invite to summer minicamp with the Cleveland Browns.
"He looked like Mike Tyson the way he was built, just muscles everywhere," Holtz said. "I'm kind of hoping (Gagloev) is like (Danso). He's a guy that we don't know anything about coming in. But when you look at him, he's a big, strong, physical-looking son of a gun that you would think has a chance to play the game of football."